Marriage Story (2019) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Director Noah Baumbach produces some of the best drama of the year with the literal title - “Marriage Story”. In the process, the film depicts the true atrocities of a normal divorce and how two perfectly normal people will go to the extreme to rip each other apart courtesy of some external party and lawyers influencing the situation. It is a sad and tragic film that will bring most of the audience to tears as we reach the touching finale, but ultimately it is the pitch perfect story telling and an excellent cast to boot that carries the film benefit its marriage weights.
Scarlett Johansson is simply spot on and gave the best performance in her career since “Lost in Translation”. Johansson excels in the climatic scene where Adam Driver and her simply lost it and went after each other to the point of wishing the other to be dead. It is this scene that Johansson shown her maturity as she embraces Driver in one the more memorable scene in the movie. Similarly Driver is outstanding as the slightly awkward and self centred soon to be Broadway Director whose present himself as both a victim of circumstances, before finally accepting the reality. In the kitchen scene where he accidentally cut his arm and decides to hide the pain. The pain in reality is both physical and emotional as he grasp himself on the kitchen floor. Laura Dern makes the feminist divorce lawyer like gold and Ray Liotta is equally up to the task. Alan Alda simply steals the show as the ageing lawyer who remains a human being in the proceedings.
All in all, “Marriage Story” is not simply a marriage drama, but it rips apart both leading characters in a naked state. It is the aftermath, the children, the issues and the dilemmas that all adds to to the film’s emotional core and a finale that makes you cry with watery eyes. Director Baumbach based his own personal experience of divorce into this heartfelt story that felt so real and characters that we see from all sides of the coin. There are no winners in this battle, it is simply a journey and part of life that both Johansson and Driver have to endure and live with.
I rated it 9/10